Patricia K. Kuhl

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Infants learn language with remarkable speed, but how they do it remains a mystery. New data show that infants use computational strategies to detect the statistical and prosodic patterns in language input, and that this leads to the discovery of phonemes and words. Social interaction with another human being affects speech learning in a way that resembles(More)
Many perceptual categories exhibit internal structure in which category prototypes play an important role. In the four experiments reported here, the internal structure of phonetic categories was explored in studies involving adults, infants, and monkeys. In Experiment 1, adults rated the category goodness of 64 variants of the vowel i parallel on a scale(More)
Linguistic experience affects phonetic perception. However, the critical period during which experience affects perception and the mechanism responsible for these effects are unknown. This study of 6-month-old infants from two countries, the United States and Sweden, shows that exposure to a specific language in the first half year of life alters infants'(More)
In the early months of life, infants acquire information about the phonetic properties of their native language simply by listening to adults speak. The acoustic properties of phonetic units in language input to young infants in the United States, Russia, and Sweden were examined. In all three countries, mothers addressing their infants produced(More)
At the forefront of debates on language are new data demonstrating infants' early acquisition of information about their native language. The data show that infants perceptually "map" critical aspects of ambient language in the first year of life before they can speak. Statistical properties of speech are picked up through exposure to ambient language.(More)
Human speech and birdsong have numerous parallels. Both humans and songbirds learn their complex vocalizations early in life, exhibiting a strong dependence on hearing the adults they will imitate, as well as themselves as they practice, and a waning of this dependence as they mature. Innate predispositions for perceiving and learning the correct sounds(More)
Infants' speech perception skills show a dual change towards the end of the first year of life. Not only does non-native speech perception decline, as often shown, but native language speech perception skills show improvement, reflecting a facilitative effect of experience with native language. The mechanism underlying change at this point in development,(More)
This article presents an account of how early language experience can impede the acquisition of non-native phonemes during adulthood. The hypothesis is that early language experience alters relatively low-level perceptual processing, and that these changes interfere with the formation and adaptability of higher-level linguistic representations. Supporting(More)
Patterns of developmental change in phonetic perception are critical to theory development. Many previous studies document a decline in nonnative phonetic perception between 6 and 12 months of age. However, much less experimental attention has been paid to developmental change in native-language phonetic perception over the same time period. We hypothesized(More)